Udi Avivi

How the UK media downplay and trivialise Hamas terror

The press don't give a fair and balanced understanding of the conflict by focusing only on Israel's response to attacks, Udi Avivi writes

July 22, 2018 09:00

Over the past few months, Hamas has been engaged in an ongoing terror campaign against the Jewish state: continuously striving to infiltrate into Israel, launching incendiary devices over the border, and last weekend firing more than 200 rockets and mortar shells.

Although the Israeli press has covered these attacks extensively, the UK media has largely minimalised them. This, despite the obligation of the press to report accurately and fairly. The coverage has been flawed in three specific areas.

First, the media has largely dismissed Hamas’s ongoing attempts to infiltrate the border with Israel as mere “protests”.

Since March of this year, Hamas has repeatedly assembled large groups of Palestinians to storm the Gaza border, in an effort to break through into Israel and murder Israeli civilians living in communities nearby.

However, headline-writers at the Independent and other publications have described these activities as “protests” (‘Jerusalem Day’ protests: Three Palestinians die as violence on Gaza-Israel border resumes), belittling the fact that many of the so-called “protesters” have been carrying pipe bombs and machetes, and not simply placards. Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar has openly admitted that the strategy of labelling events in Gaza as “peaceful protests” has been a deliberate “deception”.

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar has proclaimed boldly, “we will tear down the border” to “tear out their hearts”.

It is a sad day when journalists ignore the very words that Hamas themselves declare about their own tactics and motives.

The second major problem has been a decided lack of accurate reporting when it comes to Hamas’s sending incendiary devices into Israel. Arsonists have attached explosives, Molotov cocktails and other highly flammable materials to kites and balloons, turning toys into weapons. In at least one case, Hamas tied incendaries to the feet of a kestrel.

These bombs may be “homemade” and “improvised”, but that does not make them any less dangerous — especially when in the hands of professional terrorists from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other such groups.

Their attacks have caused more than 850 fires, destroying more than 6,500 acres of natural habitat and farmland. All of this has taken a huge economic toll on the Israeli farmers in the border region.

Key facts about Hamas’s use of incendiary weapons have been downplayed, under-reported, and trivialised — the devices being dismissed as mere children’s kites and party balloons.

Back in April, the Guardian mentioned these incendiaries only in passing, describing those launching them as “protesters”, rather than as arsonists and terrorists. Only when Israel has responded to this terror from Gaza, then — and only then — has the media seriously taken notice.

All too often, a perverse logic appears to be at work, which snoozes as these fires burn through Israel’s wheat fields, and wakes up when Israel tries to prevent further fires by taking steps to defend itself.

If the damage caused by incendiary devices is not conveyed to the readers, then how can they understand the gravity of Hamas’s actions, and indeed Israel’s need to respond?

If terrorists seeking to destroy the UK were to set vast swathes of British farmland ablaze, then every newspaper in this country would devote their front pages to the attacks.

When Israel acted to bring an end to Hamas’s ongoing violence, Hamas responded with a massive barrage of rockets and mortars.

This fresh assault forms the third aspect of Hamas’s terror campaign that the media is playing down.

Newspapers are publishing headlines that make no mention of Hamas rockets at all. In recent weeks, those rockets have destroyed infrastructure, with one missile landing in a kindergarten shortly before children were due to arrive. Last weekend, a house was hit and four people were taken to hospital. A synagogue was also struck.

The Guardian’s headline Israel makes ‘most painful Hamas strike’ since 2014 ignores Hamas’s aggression completely, as does the BBC with its headline Israel deals ‘hardest blow’ to Hamas since 2014 Gaza war.

If these three key aspects of Hamas’s terrorism — infiltration attempts, arson attacks, and rockets and mortars — were reported on clearly and consistently, then readers would have a far more balanced and accurate understanding of the current conflict.

Udi Avivi is press attache at the Israeli Embassy in London

July 22, 2018 09:00

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